tv Tavis Smiley PBS October 7, 2009 12:00pm-12:30pm EDT
violent attacks in chicago with jesse jackson. last month four windy city students were killed, including a 16-year-old honor student named derrion albert. jesse jackson tonight on the root of this troubling problem and what he and other leat -- leaders are doing to calm the violence in chicago. also, george benson is here. his new project covers a range of artists from james taylor on. we're glad you have joined us. announcer: there are so many things wal-mart is looking forward to doing, like helping people live better but mostly we're looking forward to hope -- helping people build stronger relationships. with your help the best is yet to come. >> tavis and nationwide insurance -- working to improve financial literacy and the empowerment that comes with it.
>> nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: tomorrow in chicago attorney general eric holder and education secretary arne duncan will meet with school officials to discuss the rash of school violence in the city over the past month. i'm glad to be joined by reverend jesse jackson, founder of the rainbow/push coalition. what is happening in chicago with regard to youth violence? what's happening there? >> you know, there was the tragedy of derrion albert being beaten to death last week and
it became a big deal because it was caught on video and it was such a savage, hateful attack on him and it captured people's attention here and the white house and around the world. the fact is, tavis, it's not an isolated incident. last year 400 youth from shot and 40 were killed. that is a situation that requires our government take action to ensure students safe passage to school. it hasn't happened. it happened in little rock in 1957. i hope when secretary arne duncan comes back home tomorrow and attorney general holder they come prepared to act and make assurance of safe passage the tavis: to your point about being prepared to act, for you their acting would mean what
specifically? >> it would mean some kind of anti-gang intervention. and also looking at the structure of things. there is a poor area called altgeld gardens. and carver high, it's not carver military, it's about one fifth school but kids have to go past that school and catch buses and do three transfers to go to fenger high in a completely different area. those kids should be able to go to school where they live, not go through three bus transfers and create this unnatural tension between two communities. and there needs to be another intervention not just on the children but on the adults. ray lahood, the secretary of transportation, issued 119 stimulus contracts. 2% went to black. so poverty is a form of violence. we have the case of a suit filed by attorney general lisa madigan where they found
systematic patterns of home frork exploitation. so it's not just the children. it's the economy playing some role in all this. tavis: there was a great deal of talk in the last weeks about chicago's bid to host the olympics and we know that bid did not come through. give me some sense of the attention being placed on this as compared to the olympic hype over the last week or two. >> there was talk about the olympic games but we need chicago education the. i wish chicago had won the olympics. i understand why we didn't. america has hosted eight times and south america has not hosted one time. that's a factor. the world cup is going to south africa as a vote after the end of apartheid and in some sense
giving the olympics to rio is a sympathy vote. it could have been a clash of cultures. but i think in the end that we sent our a-team, we sent the president, his wife, oprah winfrey, the mayor and the governor, but in the international global politics they see spreading it ruined -- it around and maybe ultimately that's a good thing. i know when maynard jackson went to make the appeal in tokyo, since they knew some i.o.c. members, it may have had some impact but perhaps this was just rio's timente tavis: what's the sense, and i don't ask you to speak for every black person in chicago, but give me your sense of what's being said in the black community about the involvement or lack there've of the president to date on this youth violence issue. what's being said about the president since he's from chicago and, to your point, used to work on the south side
as an organizer. >> well, he's sending in the attorney general, the secretary of education. i hope he sends in others as well. it's on his radar screen because he worked in that area and he saw it on tv in washington. i'm sure it's close to his heart but he needs not only anti-gang intervention but targeted economic stimulus. you're talking about extreme poverty. we've had stimulus top-down. we've watered the leaves. we must now water the roots. i'm convinced we need some targeted stimulus impact of jobs and education. the fallout of the millions of jobs lost, the four and a half million homes lost to foreclosure, disproportionately black and brown according to all the studies that is weighing very heavily on the
poorest in our society and they need a stimulus. tavis: what specifically is being done, i want to go right to the point you raised, the home foreclosures that have hurt black and brown disproportionately. what should be done about that? >> the banks that got the stimulus were the ones guilty of the exploitation. they got paid twice, once for robbing and once in the bailout. there must be a movement to restructure homes, not repossess homes. it's all affected by a lack of a plan to restructure, not repossess. one of every two american homeowners is a month behind in their mortgage. could be one of two by next year. and this is an extreme crisis. the same banks that got
stimulus are charging high rates on student loans. those banks that got the bailout must link it to reinvesting in america, not just more greed and buying more banks. they said the banks were too big to fail. well, now goldman sachs is twice as big. $175 billion for a.i.g.. they suggest so far 8, 9 or $10 trillion has gone to the biggest on wall street. the president is working with a great degree of haste and strength and character but now it must be a renewed from the bottom oup -- bottom up, not just the topdown. tavis: to your point, when, where, and how do you see that money trickling down? where does it trickle to the working class? >> it's not president the collapse of wall street was driven by lack of regulation,
lack of government oversight and greed and they got bailed out and now they're sending money back to washington. it has not gotten to the bottom. there must be a second wave of stimulus and it must be focused on the bottom. one bank here got $2 billion. they didn't want it. they got the -- sent the money back. if that had gone to 10 local banks, they'd have been in a better position to deal with houses, small businesses, jobs and unemployment. but right now unemployment is going up, home foreclosures are going up. student loon -- loan rates are going up. health taxes are increasing. so we've stopped a certain stimulus at the top. the hemorrhaging at the bottom is substantial. tavis: you've been a long-time democrat and ran for the white house before barack obama, as we know, in 1998.
if this white house cannot turn things around and the numbers you mentioned don't start going in a different direction, what's going to happen in the mid terms next year? >> well, our faith will be about job creation. a lot of focus on -- our fate lies in putting america back to work. you know, if you were in a wreck tonight and someone got there real fast and stopped the bleeding, a doctor would say what about his aorta? is that hemorrhaging? that will kill you. so while we've done some patching up, the hemorrhaging bottom up is in every category still erupting great blood. the increased number are losing more jobs, more houses or more student loan rates. basically getting zero percent money, why can't students get the same deal banks get, for example? i'm anxious to have a meeting with the president and his appropriate advisors to look at a real plan for bottom up as
d.l. -- well as to match the top-down commitment. tavis: just a minute to go. i want to end this conversation where it began by tying two things up. we've talked about two things, the economy where everyday people are concerned and about youth violence in chicago. there are some who do not buy the connection between crime and violence, i mean crime and poverty in this country. make the case for me between crime and poverty, number one and finally, what are you guys going to do in chicago to stop this in the immediate? >> well, poverty is a form of violence. lack of health care say form of violence. unemployment say form of violence in the face of such plenty so we have some need now to address ending the violence against people who are facing such deprivation. you know, you can use the bankruptcy laws to bail out companies like g.m. but you cannot use them to bail out student loans so i think in the
reworking of our commi there must be much more focus on bottom up, not just top down. in the short run we need the government to intervene to stop the spate of killing in targeted areas. we did in little rock, we can do it here. i mean the numbers are baghdad numbers, kabul and afghanistan numbers. we cannot just talk, there must be some kind of way to stop the intervention as well as security for our youth to wish to make a transition. they need transportation, job training and jobs. i might add with 2.3 million americans in prison, a million blacks and 500,000 latinos, those are real structural injustices that cry for relief the tavis: reverend jackson, always appreciate your insights and glad to have you on the program. >> thank you, sir. tavis: up next, adgreat george benson. stay with us.
please welcome george benson back to this program. 109-time grammy-winning music legend is in the middle of a major world tour in support of his most recent project, "songs and stories," which features congs -- songs from people like james taylor and donnie hathaway. >> we dove into the material and the magic started happening right away. ♪ >> when i heard the songs, i was automatically inspired, and this came out. whether it was through my guitar or through my voice, it was great vibes. the band kept coming towards me with all the wonderful ideas. gregory kept feeding me all the harmony and john robinson would
not let up with his rhythm and it just pumped me through some of the greatest songs i've ever been involved in. tavis: you've been making music how many years now on vinyl, c.d. and eight-track? >> well, i started when i was 10 years ole. so you have to do your own math! tavis: a little while, huh? i only ask because watching that footage i'm curious how the process of making music has changed for you over the years, the process of making it. >> it can go either way. you can do a very simple project but the problem is that you are up against people who are spending the money and the time. sometimes they spend -- take two, three years to make a record and it's hard to compete with that with a record that takes two months but the best records i've ever made and the most successful are with great musicians that go in the studio with their hearts and our talent and we live with the
music for a minute or two and then jump on it with all fours. >> so for you, taking tame does not mean it will be better in the end? >> not necessarily. a more sure way is in the marketplace, to make sure you match technically and artistically that -- what is on the market but it's not a guarantee. tavis: we've talked so many times but it makes it horrible, you talk to somebody so many times, you keep trying to find new stuff to query them about when they come on the i did not know that when you were just a kid you actually tried rock. true? >> oh, well, i did a little bit of everything when i was a kid. my first record was called "it should have been me," and many years later i found out it was written by king curtis and he was on the session. he was a teenager. i was 10. he was a teenager who came from texas to new york to make his
mark on him. but the original, you remember the ray charles original, "it should have been me"? well, we -- he rewrote the lyrics for a little kid and we also did a song "shout, holler, and scream," that was a take on "shake, rattle, and roll," so yeah, i was involved in all that rock then president tavis: you experiment with rock at 10. how did you after that all that experimentation know that jazz was where you wanted to end up ultimately? >> well, i heard a record by charlie parker when i was 17 -- tavis: say no more. >> the search was over. somebody that knows what they're doing and makes music do the same thing it does when people sing the lyrics. i didn't need the lyrics anymore. the -- the music was powerful. tavis: i had a conversation with someone recently about
great guitarist and it occurred to me today that i don't know i've ever known anybody who has done a documentary or books about guitars that have put jazz guitarists on the list of the world's greatest guitarists the am i missing something or have you sensed that same reality over the years? >> i think so. the world is very commercial and commerce means it for sale and jazz has not been a big seller since the 1940's, so it does not list on -- on many lists of people making bigtime in the money world. but we had some geniuses. wes montgomery. if they didn't put him on that list, something is wrong, like you said. i think in the near future it's going to be something that explodes because it's fresh now. now we have the record sales to prove that these guys were great and that they're household words not only among
jazz musicians but among all those that are searching for something different to listen to. tavis: you listed the greats you were turned on by as a child. how is it over the years you have developed your own style, how is it that if i hear you on the radio even before i hear your voice i know it's george benson? >> it's a strange way to answer it but i'm a conglomeration of all the things that happened before me, whether charlie parker or chuck colt trane, mostly guitar players, starting with the django reinhart, and the best of the best. i sat in with b.b. king, muddy waters and i'm a conglomeration of all those guys. it's the only school i've been to, the school of the streets and i think that's a good school. not necessarily the very best of the best but it is a school and it's a powerful one.
tavis: how did you end up playing at 10 in the first place? >> well, i was actually a singer mostly at 10 years old. i had been playing the guitar one year and been playing the ukelele since 7 -- tavis: did you say the ukelele? >> yeah, i played the ukelele on the street and made a fortune playing it. tavis: you played the ukelele and you got paid playing it? that's really funny. but i digress. >> yeah, i played the ukelele and a guy asked me -- i sold one newspaper in my life. a guy asked me if i could play it. i was getting ready to buy some candy in the store. people crowded around and they were reaching in their pockets and my cousin came in and i -- he took off his baseball cap and went around. and, boy, were we shocked! tavis: you had a lot of candy that day, i take it? >> rimente
tavis: what's funny about that to those who are fans and know your history, you start out as a singer, you eventually become a respected player of the instrument, the guitar. then at another point in your career you are told na -- that what you need to do is just play, you don't need to sing. the voice we hear now, somebody at some point tried to shut down and said just play. i have asked you this a,000 -- a thousand times but tell the story how that went down the >> well, one of the worst shows i ever did in my life was the first time i was on johnny carson. that night, bill cosby was hosting, and he decided he was going to have me on, somebody people didn't know but he felt i was coming up and was going to be important. i went on and decided to sing a blues song and it was the worst performance i ever had in my
life. my band was shaking. my soice was shaking. and -- voice was shaking the i'm never nervous but that night because i knew we were playing for millions, my voice fell apart. and after we came off, my manager let me have it. he said you are one of the world's greatest guitar players, don't sing! tavis: and what drew you back? >> club owners said, "george, sing something for the people." i said why? but a lady told me, "when you sing, the people on that set stay over for the next set." so i put it to the test and i sang one song at the end of each set, and sure enough they would stay for the next set. i said oh, man, now i can ask for more money! tavis: funny how it always comes back to money.
isn't that amazing? i raise that because it's fascinating to me, there's been a lot of publicity of late, and i'm glad she's back, whitney houston is back, and one of the greatest hits she had was a remake of a george benson classic. as you look back on that, tell me about that song and what to the -- thought about whitney when she covered the song. tavis: i should say it, too, the greatest love of all, of course. >> i had done it for the film that is muhammad ali's life story. incredible film. but i had the privilege of doing two songs and that was one, "the greatest love of all." it was a number one r&b song. years later i met this kid on the streets. right next to the empire state building. she was real pretty, but just a kid, wiry build, beautiful face
and she said, "mr. benson, my favorite artist, and the greatest love of all it is my favorite song." i said "-- she said, "i'm going to record that song." i said, oh, yeah, to myself. a couple years later, i heard it and i said i wonder if this is that kid who said she was going to do the song. because i had heard rumblings about this great female -- my producer had said i just found this girl, she's got greatest voice. i said yeah, yeah, yeah, they say that about everybody. but about the third or fourth time i had heard her sing i began to hear power i had nothe. and i said yes, i guess a woman can do this song. she had the pourment tavis: tell me about this record. a lot of good stories on this one.
>> what an incredible one this was to make. we had a new gait ar player, jubu, a fabulous player. one of the few guys i didn't have to say anything to. i looked at him and heard him play and he was doing the song and i said he is so good i better stay out of his way. when we did the first take, guys came in the control room, the studio, and a couple of them went into tears. they said we haven't made a record like this in years where we're all together and having a ball and laying down some vibe. i felt it too because i -- it had been a while since i had done that. tavis: this is such a great c.d., it's called "songs and stories," by george benson. for more on it log on to my web site. george, great to seeup. >> thank you. tavis: that's our show for tonight.
see you the next time on pbs. until then, good night from l.a. and thanks for watching, and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org the tavis: join me next time with the new director of the peace corps, aaron williams, pluzz richard belzer. that's next time. see you then. >> there are so many things that wal-mart is looking forward to doing, like helping people live better but mostly we're looking forward to helping people build stronger relationships and communities because with your help the best is yet to come. >> nationwide insurance proudly supports tavis smiley. tavis and nationwide insurance. working to improve financial literacy and the empowerment that comes with it. ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪ >> and by contributions to your